Today I felt so helpless and frustrated that I feel I need to write this post for every parent that has ever gone through the same struggle. When we moved to America we imagined that we will face some challenges, but I never thought that finding childcare will be the most difficult thing we will have to do here. I always imagined that the fact that women in America usually have no paid maternity leave (like the mothers in Europe do) would make the childcare services very reliable and supportive for the working moms. The reality, on the other hand, is completely different: finding quality childcare seems to be a real struggle that adds to all the other challenges that a working parent must face!
The childcare system seems to be more a luxury service than a usual supportive system that every parent should have! Finding a reliable childcare facility is kind of a lottery that leaves mothers with no real chance to have a career when the child is young. There are the lucky cases when parents receive help from grandparents who take care of the children, but for most of the families, this is not a choice.
When we moved here we wanted to find a good childcare center where our boy will have the chance to play and learn in a nice environment, surrounded by qualified teachers. We imagined that this will imply some costs, but we never thought that find childcare will be such an adventure.
After making a list of places that seemed appropriate for us, we started to look for more details about them. We were surprised to see that some of the preschools don’t even answer our calls and that most of them are fully booked. The only alternative left was to pay a fee that will allow us to be added to a waiting list, with no guarantee about when the spot will be available.
And this was not the only issue! There are a lot of childcare facilities that don’t meet the quality standards that every child deserves, but these centers are also fully booked because the parents cannot find other alternatives. I started talking with other parents with young children and I found out similar stories: waiting lists, childcare centers that are far away from the parents’ home, a lot of low-quality childcare services, very high costs for early age education.
I am thinking now of all those mothers who cannot afford these expensive fees and who are forced either to give up their careers for staying home with the kids or to leave their children in a childcare facility that doesn’t provide the quality services that a child needs. Even if a family can afford the costs, finding the right place is still a challenge!
In our area, all good childcare centers have big waiting lists and parents can wait up to a year to find a spot there. For me, this seems very unfair and frustrating! I feel like the childcare system in America is no giving mothers a real chance of combining the professional life with the family life and this should not be like this! The children deserve to have access to early learning programs and the moms deserve to have the support they need for their kids!
It may seem incredible but in some areas of the country, the childcare costs are higher than the renting costs or an average college tuition. This makes high-quality childcare out of reach for working families! Childcare is even less affordable for families with infants so many mothers decide not to return to work until kids grow and they can afford to pay for childcare.
Does this seem fair? Finding childcare should not be like this! We need to speak up for our rights because our kids deserve high-quality childcare and we deserve to have the support we need for raising our kids! There are a lot of success stories in other countries that show that building a reliable and high-quality childcare system is possible and it’s a great support for the working families, allowing women to have a real chance to go back to work whenever they decide to do this.
If you are facing the same struggle with finding childcare for your child, I’m sure you understand how I feel. Things need to change and the first step we can take is to speak about this, to let other people know that this is a real issue and to speak up about the need of a real support for parents with young kids! Something needs to change… for us and most of all for our children!